Jeremy Fernandez: “For me, it’s a really positive time”

ABC's Jeremy Fernandez has a big weekend ahead with live WorldPride & Mardi Gras broadcasts, sharing queer stories and just enough time to party.

It’s a big weekend coming up in Sydney with WorldPride and Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras events, just as it is for ABC’s Jeremy Fernandez.

The news presenter has back to back events co-hosting the Live and Proud: Sydney WorldPride Opening Concert on Friday and roving duties on Oxford Street as the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade on Saturday.

While his week is already jam-packed with preparations he will be sure to rest up in between the two Live events.

“Sleep, eat well, exercise, all that sort of stuff,” he assures TV Tonight.

“I’m so excited about it. The vibe in Sydney is just so vibrant, and it’s almost like you’ve got a fear of missing out because there’s so much going on. I feel like that at work too, it’s early mornings and late nights but I’m loving all of it.”

2023 marks the second time Fernandez has been a Mardi Gras presenter, following last year’s Covid-safe event at Sydney Cricket Ground. This year he will be roving Taylor’s Square as it returns to its Oxford Street home, speaking to members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

“I feel most at home when I’m able to have conversations with people”

“I requested with our producers if I could take my pick, it was to be on the ground, interviewing people on the parade route,” he explains.

“I feel most at home when I’m able to have conversations with people. Some of the most profound conversations I’ve had are during the Mardi Gras period…. meeting people from the community, hearing their stories and what they’ve endured. It’s a really positive and uplifting piece to be involved in.

“We’ve got few bits and pieces planned about who we’re going to talk to but there’s a whole bunch of things you can’t rehearse for in a show like this. We had a team meeting yesterday, and one of the ideas was that it’s going to be chaotic. Let’s not pretend it’s going to be smooth-sailing. Live television is a chaotic environment and is a great deal of fun. So let’s just lean into that.”

Anchoring the parade will be ABC News Breakfast’s Nate Byrne, Behind The News presenter Jack Evans and ABCQueer’s Mon Schafter. They will also be supported on-the-ground by Actor-Musician-Director, Zindzi Okenyo and comedian Mel Buttle.

“It’s a community that’s been really good to me”

Describing himself as part of the LGBTQIA+ community, Fernandez sees his role as elevating queer stories to audiences, but Mardi Gras also means much to him personally.

“It’s a community that’s been really good to me. It’s a community that looks after each other. And it’s a community, that’s been through a lot. What I find most enriching about being involved in a project like this is that you walk away hearing about people’s resilience, about people’s ability to overcome all sorts of unfortunate situations, all sorts of adversity. So for me, it’s a really positive time,” he continues, “and it’s a reminder to everyone about the value of looking out for each other, loving each other and being allowed to sort of blossom in your own skin.”

Friday’s Live and Proud: Sydney WorldPride Opening Concert features Kylie Minogue, Charli XCX , Jessica Mauboy, plus a huge array of Australia’s iconic queer performers. Co-hosting with Fernandez are Casey Donovan, Courtney Act, Rhys Nicholson and Brihony Dawson.

“We want to connect people.”

“We are presenting links and packages, using those moments as an opportunity to expand the story out of WorldPride beyond Sydney. This is obviously, as far as the ABC is concerned, a big national event so we want to connect people,” he says.

“Our role as the national broadcaster partner broadcaster for this event, is to connect people from across the world, across the country, on social media, YouTube, Tik Tok, to a wider audience and get people to share in those moments.”

Conceding he is yet to see Kylie’s rehearsal, he adds, “I’m not even sure if I’ll get to see her in person actually!”

Once both Live broadcasts are done, there’s just enough time for Fernandez to party and enjoy himself, but there are also events around the corner, including the Pride March across Sydney Harbour Bridge, an episode of Compass he is presenting and a NSW state election.

“I’m going to a few of the parties.”

“I’m going to a few of the parties. I’ve got the Human Rights Conference and a business panel I’m hosting next week as well. So I can’t go too crazy,” he insists.

“But there might be a bit of a bbq at my place afterwards to kind of wrap it all up and tie things together in a neat bow!”

Live and Proud: Sydney WorldPride Opening Concert Friday, 24 February at 7.30pm on ABC.
Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade  7:30pm Saturday, 25 February on ABC.

Photos: jeznews

2 Responses

  1. Jeremy Fernandez is a great journalist and it is so great to see him ‘let his hair down’ and be a part of these broadcasts. I would vote for him to win a Logie:)

  2. Don’t mind admitting I’m a fan of Jeremy, he’s always cheerful and quite engaging to listen to. Couldn’t think of a better person to be the interviewer. He was gracious when he and his daughter suffered public racism and that became part of his appeal in my opinion as a lesson on how to handle that situation. As for Oxford Street it was and is my favourite street in Paddington before the “gay days”. I travelled from the central west for the weekends stayed with relatives and it was quite exciting walking to Hyde Park on Sundays watching the political, non political, weird, way out, wonderful, dysfunctional, OTT, eccentric mishmash of humanity on their “soapboxes” giving as good as they got for what ever cause took their fancy and I loved it, priceless live entertainment at its best. And now it’s even more colourful.

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